In the ongoing conversation about the proposed MediShield Life revamp and expected increase in premiums, thus far the argument justifying the hefty increases has either been the rise in claim limits or ever ballooning healthcare costs.
Today, the structure of the system has resulted in higher premiums for people seeking treatment in public hospitals because claims for private hospitalisation have increased significantly.
Why does an increase in private hospitalisation claims translate to higher premiums for people who go the public hospital route? Does it not sound unfair?
Perhaps it is time to redesign the scheme to more equitably reflect a fairer burden on those who go for public hospitalisation only.
Maybe private hospitalisation insurance should be separated from MediShield Life.
Also, if costs keep going up, economic logic then suggests that either demand be reduced or supply increased.
If there is too high a demand, then the Ministry of Health (MOH) should be looking into the reasons for it and if they can be addressed.
For instance, if private hospital costs have gone up because of higher demand from an ageing population, then maybe there is a real demand for more private hospitals.
Simply relying on the old argument that premiums have to go up due to inevitable cost increases is not enough.
Besides, it was reported that MOH will review claim limits more regularly, around every three years instead of the current five years (MediShield Life coverage set to widen next year, Sept 30), so does that mean a premium increase every three years?
The Government needs to think out of the box.
Chang Wei Meng